published Sunday, January 29th, 2012

Marion County offers workers long-term care insurance

Ryan Lewis/Correspondent

JASPER, Tenn. -- After several months of delays, the Marion County Commission has voted unanimously to offer its employees state-sponsored, long-term care insurance.

"It's an opportunity that's been provided by the state to allow local governments to opt into the long-term care insurance program," Marion County Attorney Billy Gouger said in October.

The insurance would go into effect when someone "develops a need for long-term care or assistance such as assisted living, nursing home care or at-home care," he said.

When the option was introduced to the board last year, officials said there were just too many unanswered questions to consider voting to offer the insurance, even though the county's only task would be to honor a payroll deduction if employees enter the program.

In November, Marion County Mayor John Graham said he worried the county might not have the technology available to fulfill that requirement.

Even though it doesn't cost the county anything to offer the insurance to its employees, Graham said in November, there could be a hefty expense attached to acquiring and installing technology for electronic transfers.

After looking into the issue further, Graham discovered that the electronic transfer and payroll deduction technology will cost the county only $15 per month.

"The question was asked of me whether we could transfer the money electronically," he said. "We definitely can do that. We can do it as long as [the board] chooses to allow it."

Officials said a few employees already have expressed an interest in adding the insurance.

County administrators will send out a letter to all county employees informing them the insurance is available and what the various policies will cost, Graham said.

Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at ryanlewis34@gmail.com.

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